Exeter native races through ‘Marvel Universe Live!’ stunt show


Stunt show features more than 25 characters from the Marvel universe

• The good vs. evil battle plays out over two hours

• Jackie Ives’ electric bike “can get up to 60 really fast”


Jackie Ives has fallen in with a tough crowd. The Exeter Union High School graduate was on her way to college and a life in professional motorcycle racing when she got lured into a group that makes even the toughest biker gang look like tricycle riders.

Ives joined Hydra.

Marvel Comics fans know Hydra is an evil worldwide subversive organization dedicated to global domination. Only a group of heroes with special powers has been able to keep the group under control.

The battle between the forces of Hydra and the heroes continues at the Save Mart Center as the “Marvel Universe Live!” stunt show sets up shop for six performances over four days starting Friday, April 3.

Ives is one of the Hydra Riders who give Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the Hulk all kinds of problems.

“I was living in Exeter when I heard through other riders tryouts were being held for the stunt show. They wanted me for my bike riding ability. I was told in January or February last year that I had been hired. We have been on the road for almost a year now,” Ives says.

When she was 5, Ives’ father bought dirt bikes for her and her older sister. Ives stayed with it and raced professionally for six years before she was hired for the arena show.

“Marvel Universe Live!” features more than 25 characters from the Marvel universe. The good guys and bad guys collide over the Cosmic Cube, the source of ultimate power. The most coveted treasure in the Marvel Universe has been shattered into pieces by the Mighty Thor in order to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.

Thor’s wicked brother, Loki, comes up with a plan to clone the Cube’s powers. If his scheme isn’t stopped, the Universe will be wiped out.

Loki’s not alone. Other villains from the Marvel Universe include: Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Red Skull, Madame Hydra, Aldrich Killian and Electro.

The battle plays out over a two-hour period (with a 15-minute intermission) in a show that is appropriate for all ages. There are brief periods of black out, pyrotechnics, loud special effects and motion graphics.

For Ives, racing dirt bikes took up much of her free time when she was younger. That’s why she only had a passing knowledge of the Marvel characters when she started. After all of the shows, she has become much better informed.

It took a little time for Ives to adjust to the Hydra bike she rides, which is electric.

“We do a lot of lay downs with the bikes and they didn’t want a lot of gasoline on the floor,” Ives says. “The electric bikes are a little harder to ride because there are no gears or clutch. You can get up to 60 really fast.”

With so many moving parts being performed in such an exact way, there always is the potential of an accident. So far, Ives has been able to steer clear of any major injuries.

The majority of Ives’ performance is on the bike. Don’t look for her to show up as Black Widow or any other character; all the actors were hired for their abilities to handle stunts for having the same type body as the Marvel character they’re playing.

Ives sadly says she is too short to play Black Widow. But, that’s OK because the performer in the Black Widow suit, Louise Forsley, is a close friend who helped Ives land her job in the show.

The show started on the East Coast and has moved west in recent weeks, which has allowed Ives to drive home from recent stops to visit family in Exeter.

Her life on the road will continue for at least another year. She signed a new contract that will keep her in the show for another season. There is talk of taking the arena show to Europe the following year.

One of the things she likes about being part of the arena production is showing people that women can ride bikes.

“A lot of people have an image in their head about females riding bikes. Being able to show people the skills I have and represent for other females that have similar skills helps bring more respect to female racers,” Ives says.

Ives doesn’t mind being one of the bad guys because in a lot of cases the crowds have cheered for them as loud as for the heroes. That could be just a reaction to all of the big stunts and special effects.

She says so much happens in the show, it might take a couple of viewings to fully see all that is occurring.